October is National Depression Awareness Month for the Army, and the 2012 theme is “Redefining Strength – Get Screened, Seek Care.” Oct. 11 was “National Depression Screening Day” and was recognized across the United States. Education was spread on the signs and symptoms of depression. Free behavioral health screenings were available as well.
Clinical depression is a common but serious condition. Depression screenings can assist in recognizing the problem and seeking the correct form of treatment. Screenings are available through the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, behavioral health agencies and various local community resources. Symptoms of depression are persistent sadness or anxiety, hopelessness, pessimistic attitude, feeling helpless, inability to concentrate and alcohol or drug abuse.
According to www.army.mil, two-thirds of people who suffer from depression do not get help. It is common to think that these symptoms are normal and avoid seeing a doctor, but these symptoms can be treated. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act made it a requirement for those deploying or returning from a deployment to be screened. Treatments used for depression are counseling, medication or both. The sooner one seeks treatment, the more effective it is and the easier it is to prevent from returning.
Fort Huachuca has many programs to offer Soldiers, Family members and Army civilians that can work side-by-side with these treatments and help lessen the depression symptoms or prevent them from escalating.
The Behavioral Health clinic at Raymond W. Bliss Army Medical Health Center is a one-stop shop for depression. One can schedule an appointment with a counselor/provider and discuss concerns, get information on various treatment options, follow-up on previous visits, and learn about depression prevention. To schedule an appointment, call 533.7030.
Depression often leads to suicide or thoughts of suicide. Last month was National Suicide Prevention Month and on Sept. 27, Fort Huachuca held an installation-wide event, a Stand Down Day for Suicide Prevention. The theme was “Shoulder to Shoulder, We Stand Up for Life.” This event was held for Soldiers, Army civilians, and Family members to equip them with the information needed to determine warning signs of depression and high-risk behavior in both oneself and in others.
Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca was a guest speaker at the event. “I am here to tell you, you are not weak if you go out and seek help. You’re strong. Those of you who heard the sergeant major of the Army talk — he is not bashful about talking about going to get counseling for his issues. When somebody is acting differently, you need to get in there, you need to talk to them, get them to talk and find out what’s going on and get them the help that they need,” he said.
Fort Huachuca is paying extra attention to military spouses and Families in support of President Obama’s Military Family Plan, developed in January 2011. The goal is to provide new resources and programs for military Families worldwide. Spouses are now invited to the in-processing briefs when Soldiers move to the installation. According to Col. Jeffrey Jennings, deputy commander for training, USAICoE, “Major General Gregg Potter and Command Sergeant Major Todd Holiday strongly encourage spouses to attend the in-processing brief with their Soldiers. They believe this is an excellent way for spouses to learn about all the services available at Fort Huachuca shortly after arriving here.”
Ensuring that the transition to Fort Huachuca is smooth and that the family knows where everything is located assists in keeping depression at bay when a military Family arrives or when a Soldier is deployed.
One resource for those who are part of the Fort Huachuca family is the Army Community Service website, http://www.mwrhuachuca.com/acshuachuca.html. Here, one can find entertainment, education, Family readiness, employment preparation, empowerment and volunteer opportunities, all of which can give a sense of self worth and help prevent depression.